Outages disrupt your life. Most of the time, they are short. However, when they last several days, they are beyond annoying. This article discusses what long lasting outages mean for the lifestyle in Interior Alaska and how to prepare to dress in the dark.
- What Is a Heavy Snowstorm in Alaska
- How Is the Snow in Interior Alaska?
- Why Outages Can Last Long at the Last Frontier
- How Do Snowstorms Affect the Lifestyle in Alaska?
- How to Dress in the Dark
- Further Readings on Alaska Weather and its Impacts on Lifestyle
Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post.
What Is a Heavy Snowstorm in Alaska?
In the night from Tuesday to Wednesday in September 2015, Interior Alaska got its first snowstorm of the winter. It was a record breaking storm with 11.2 inch (28.4 cm) of snow measured at Fairbanks International Airport on Tuesday. This amount is the highest daily total ever recorded in Interior Alaska in September! The previous daily record in September was 7 inches (17.8 cm) in 1972.
The storm left over 15,000 households, i.e. more than one third of the Fairbanks metropolitan area households, without electricity. Some of my colleagues did not have their power back on Friday!
How Is the Snow in Interior Alaska?
The snow was unusually wet for Interior Alaska conditions. Wet snow is more sticky than dry snow. Thus, it accumulated higher and at a different angle on twigs than dry snow would have done. Wet snow is also heavier than dry snow. This is due to the higher density of water than ice. Thus, many trees collapsed under the snow load and downed power lines.
Why Outages Can Last Long at the Last Frontier
Even though the energy provider sent their crews out immediately to search for, and fix the interrupted lines, it takes time to locate and remove all the damage in an area of 32.7 square miles (86.4 km2). Furthermore, some power lines deliver electricity from the Eva Creek wind-power farm near Healy, 110 miles (177 km) bird route southwest of Fairbanks. The powerlines go through uninhabitated permafrost-underlain terrain with many creeks and lakes and no roads. This means travel on snow machines.
How Do Snowstorms Affect the Lifestyle in Alaska?
Fairbanksans are used to outages even though electricity is essential for furnaces to run, houses to stay habitable, water wells to function. Some have generators for such events. Some switch to heating and cooking on wood stoves, taking bucket baths of melted snow and getting water from the spring in Fox or other springs in the area. Others take shelter at family or friends’ houses who have power.
Every household has a collection of flash lights or re-chargeable LED lights. They re-charge the batteries at work, friends or family or where ever they find access to power.
How to Dress in the Dark
Have you ever tried to dress when you can’t see the items in your closet? You need to touch everything to know which piece it is? I have sorted my clothes by item type, them by color, and pattern. This way, I don’t loose much time when dressing in general. The system avoids searching for an item. In case of an outage, you have a broard idea where the neutrals are. Thus, you can dress even when you don’t have a flash light.
The snow asks for high reaching footwear. Thus, booties with a shearling insole that are waterproof are great for the first snow in fall. Typically, early in the snow season snow is wet. On the contrary, when it gets colder -typically starting in November – snow has no liquid amount and it dry. Then lobben boots are a good choice. If you are not familiar with this type of shoes, you can learn more about lobben boots at this link.
Can you imagine to be without power at below freezing temperatures without heating and water?
Further Readings on Alaska Weather and its Impacts on Lifestyle
You can find other weather related posts like
- why students in Alaska have no snow days, but rain days,
- survival strategies when traveling in the wild of Alaska, and
- Alaska’s breakup lottery.
Photos: G. Kramm
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